September is National Preparedness Month: Is Your Car Ready if Disaster Hits?
Whether it’s an earthquake, flood, riots, or the proverbial “Zombie Apocalypse,” would your car be ready if you had to leave at a moment’s notice? If you were stranded in your car in a freak snowstorm, would you be prepared? September is National Preparedness Month, and besides making sure your home is properly stocked for emergencies, AskPatty joins with The Car Care Council to remind drivers about the importance of having a well-stocked emergency kit in the car.
“Emergencies and natural disasters come in a variety of forms, and you don’t always have time to prepare,” said Rich White, executive director, Car Care Council. “It is important and gives you peace of mind to know that your vehicle is always ready for the task.”
A vehicle emergency kit should include jumper cables, a road atlas, first-aid kit, flashlight with extra batteries, water, and non-perishable food. Make sure you’ve got a portable power cord for your cellphone. If you keep water bottles in the car year-round, be sure they’re BPA free, as ambient heat can release chemicals from the plastic bottle into the water inside. Rotate your protein bars and other packaged snacks so they’re always within their expiration dates.
A handy tool to keep on your keychain is the ResQMe. This handy device will help you shatter window glass if someone is trapped in the car, and its sharp, but protected, razor blade can also be used to cut seatbelts. The ResQMe device is available at ACE Hardware or Do It Best and online at amazon.com, saveyourlife.us, and autogeek.net. The cost ranges from $9.95-14.99, depending on the outlet.
You never know when you might have to walk, so make sure you have a sack, packpack, or other carrying device to carry necessities you’ll want to take with you. Be sure you’ve got a comfortable change of shoes (and socks) in your car: If you have to leave your car behind and walk for help, you don’t want to do it in strappy heels.
It’s also a good idea to bring along some toilet paper as well as unscented baby wipes, and small plastic bags for disposal. You’ll also want to have a bottle of disinfectant or hand sanitizer in case water is not available. I always keep a Go-Girl in my glovebox, or you might want to step up to the packaged waste disposal kits like the ones made by Travel John. (You can find out more about these products here at AskPatty.)
When it’s winter time, you’ll want to keep an extra jacket and blanket in the trunk in case you get stranded in the car in cold weather. Be sure you have a waterproof rain poncho or large plastic garbage bags to keep you dry in case of unexpected rain. Also, be sure you have kitty litter or some other kind of gravel-like substance to help when your car needs added traction. If you don’t want to carry the unwanted weight of these items everywhere you go, then at least have a shovel so you can dig beneath your tires to slip your floormats underneath the tires that need extra grip.
Want More Emergency Preparedness Tips?
Popular Mechanics has also compiled an excellent preparedness checklist that includes eight categories of essential supplies to carry in your car, made up from suggestions from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the U.S. Army, the American Automobile Association (AAA), the Red Cross, and regional search-and-rescue teams.
For more information on how to stay safe behind the wheel when a disaster hits, download this information sheet from the American Public Health Association’s Get Ready program.
The Car Care Council is the source of information for the “Be Car Care Aware” consumer education campaign promoting the benefits of regular vehicle care, maintenance and repair to consumers. For a free copy of the council’s popular Car Care Guide or for more information, visit www.carcare.org.